How To Save Money On A Reduced Income

Many people living with a chronic or invisible illness are forced to cut back on work hours, or to cut out work entirely. Some of us rely on government funding for disabilities, or have spouses who provide financial support.

We all know the advice to have 3-months worth of rent and bills stashed for a rainy day, but how can you save money when you don’t have a lot coming in?

1) Old-Fashioned Change Jars

While many people pay by debit or credit these days, taking your leftover change and stashing it in a jar can accumulate quickly. Even better than a jar, get a fun piggy bank – they have digital ones that count your money as you add it.

2) New-Age Change Jars

No I don’t mean the digital piggy banks – I mean the real bank. There are special bank accounts now that will round your transaction and deposit a few cents into your savings.

3) Per-Transaction Savings

There are also bank accounts that will make a deposit into your savings each time you use the debit card. These are usually higher amounts like $3 or $5 vs just rounding a few cents. This can accumulate quickly and is a great way to make sure you keep some money until the end of the month.

4) Over-Pay on Bills

If your phone bill is $67 a month, rounding up to $70 or $75 every month (or more) will help you accumulate credit. The key is to pay the same amount every month and not just the balance. For example if your phone bill is $67 monthly, and you pay $75 – the second month you will be billed for $59. Instead of just paying the balance, you pay the $67 (or higher) and allow the credit to carry over.

Most companies, if you discontinue your service and have a credit on the account, will refund you the amount. Check the company policy first before you pay too much into an account you may not keep.

5) Equal Billing

Not all companies will offer this, but a lot of utilities now can be paid by “Equal Billing.” This means that instead of each bill fluctuating due to usage, you will pay the same amount. They look at the usage from the the year before, and your overall cost and break it down by payment. This allows you to for example pay into winter heating, in July! If you over pay, they carry it over into the next year, although if you under-pay you can find yourself with a higher bill at the end of the year.

6) Pay More Taxes

In some cases you can have your job take more tax off, allowing you to get more money back during income tax season.

7) Invest in a RRSP (Registered Retirement Savings Plan) or 401k Plan

RRSPs are an important part of your future – but when you live on a reduced income they can be difficult to maintain. If you are employed, see if your employer has any special offers for RRSPs, they may be willing to help pay into one! You can also have RRSPs deducted from your pay check. If you rely on government funding, you may not be able to hold an RRSP – BUT there may be other options. For example, in Ontario (Canada), persons on ODSP have a limit of $7500 in assets (including RRSPs) – but they may qualify for an RDSP (Registered Disability Savings Plan).

Whatever your financial situation there is always a way to save – even if its just a small amount. Remember, if you are receiving government assistance to check the regulations on assets.

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